Italian Restaurants in Dayton's Bluff

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More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half-century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.

890 Arcade St
Saint Paul,
MN
US

Cuisine Type: Home-cooked Italian food

Established: Before 1950

Reservations: Not necessary

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Number of Tables: 25?50

Parking: Parking lot

Most popular offering: Spaghetti/meatballs, known for our sauce

Kid-friendly: Yes

Alcohol: Full bar

Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout Only

Outdoor Seating: Yes

Q&A with the Yarusso Family

What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?

Well, we are celebrating 80 years this year. [The] third generation is running [the restaurant] now. Freddy, who is one of the owners, his house as a child is where our parking lot is now. Our additional dining room that we had added a few years back is where his front yard was. He literally grew up here. We have always been able to maintain it as a family business, and consider ourselves very lucky to have the chance to keep the dream alive of a poor Italian man that worked his butt off.

In your own words, how would you describe your menu?

Our meatballs [and] sauce are made with the exact same recipes that our grandfather used when first opening up in 1933. We have also added some new items through the years, while still maintaining that Yarusso taste.

637 Payne Ave.
St. Paul,
MN
US

Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar has blossomed into a haven for libations, music, and art. The chefs take advantage of the community?s offerings by selecting organic and locally grown produce for the menu?s salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and homemade salsas. The coffees?lattes, cappuccinos, and cups of jo?are made with locally roasted beans. And while the craft beer selection is found from local and regional breweries, the wines are culled from vineyards around the world. On any given night, musicians of all genres take the stage to entertain patrons, and displayed on the walls are rotating exhibits featuring work by cartoonists, photographers, and auditors.

308 Prince St
Saint Paul,
MN
US

When he passed through St. Paul for his popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri made sure to stop at Dari-ette Drive In. Aware of the eatery's reputation for superb Italian-American dishes, the host, during the program's pilot show, asked to try the homemade deep-fried meatballs and pork sausages. Though he seemed a little incredulous about the cooking method at first, one bite had Guy literally licking his fingers while saying, mouth still full, ?I like the crunchy outside.?

A whole lot of people, as it turns out, like the crunchy outside. So much so that the drive-in has kept eaters coming back for more than 60 years. Meatball subs, pastas, and mozzarella sticks come with Dari-ette?s classic marinara sauce?an original family recipe that Guy spent the better part of the segment more or less begging the chef for. Beyond Italian specialties, the 1950s-style diner serves American classics, from four-piece fried chicken dinners and 1/3-pound burgers to ice cream treats such as dipped cones and 10 sundae flavors. Waitresses whisk orders to guests parked in the drive-in's 30-spot lot, but seating at indoor booths, an outdoor patio, or atop a stranger's car is also available.

1440 Minnehaha Avenue East
Saint Paul,
MN
US

At Faces Mears Park, Chef David Fhima's use of local, sustainable ingredients puts a contemporary spin on traditional bistro cuisine. His chefs seek out grass-fed beef for their steaks, hand-make pastas with organic whole wheat, and stock the wine cellar with as many organic and biodynamically produced bottles as possible. This approach results in fresh renditions of classic American and Mediterranean comfort foods, such as an Asian-style tuna melt on house-made sourdough and lamb tagine with a cinnamon and onion marmalade. Even the pizzas manage to incorporate some more inventive toppings, including options with everything from Sicilian andouille sausage and a fried egg to salmon, kale, and chevre.

The restaurant's dining room, designed by Billy Besson, shares a similarly casual, yet modern aesthetic. Large plate-glass windows line the front walls of the atrium section and allow plenty of natural light to flood the space during the day. The mixture of hardwood and gray-tiled floors complements the rich earth tones of the tan walls and sturdy columns. At the same time, the restaurant gets a contemporary, industrial vibe from its gleaming metal tables and Charlie-Chaplin-manned pizza assembly line.

373 Sibley St.
St. Paul,
MN
US

When Diane Mattaini opened Trattoria da Vinci, she wanted only one thing: for customers to experience authentic Italian cuisine in a beautiful place. Fifteen years later, Trattoria da Vinci is a giant among restaurants due to its utterly beautiful design, attention to detail and amazing authentic Italian food. Their lunch menu features familiar items like spaghetti and meatballs, but also ones that, to the American palette, may be more exotic. Items like Frittra Mista and Parmesan Walleye grace the lunch menu while the dinner menu includes Cioppino (seafood stew and toasted bread) and other choice such as Gamberoni Portofino and Ravioli Crimini. Trattoria da Vinci has a great dessert menu and their wine list is extensive with both Italian favorites from Tuscany and staff favorite Santa Ynez Valley’s Geworztraminer. An elegant, lovely choice for a night out, dress up or tone down, your choice, for Trattoria da Vinci.

400 Sibley St
Saint Paul,
MN
US